10 Ways to Learn & Grow Through Conflict

We've all been there. Enduring conflict with a spouse, a friend, or family member where we tried to express ourselves and it didn't go as planned. Maybe we won an argument, but the win was at the expense of the other. Maybe we feel like expressing anger for the sake of release and venting. Or possibly we prefer to say nothing, laugh it off, avoid or ignore the person or situation, or end the relationship.

What if we could transform conflict into an opportunity for new understanding and growth?  What if we engaged in interactions which are mutually empathetic and respectful, encouraging honesty and allowing movement to occur because both parties hear and feel heard by the other.

It takes courage to move into conflict and few of us are well trained or supported in this area. Here are a few tips to navigate and engage in good conflict:

1.       Stay in the place of vulnerability; don't shift to aggression and power over.

2.       Name the difference or issue at hand without accusing or attacking the other.

3.       Avoid indirect sarcasm or ridicule.

4.       Listen actively and responsibly.

5.       Practice staying open to criticism.

6.       Be empathetic. Look for mutual empathy.

7.       Mutuality: each hears and "tries on" the view of the other. "Hold" the relationship.

8.       Each may shift positions in light of what is heard and felt from the other.

9.       Each moves toward the other through the experience of hearing and being heard.

10.   A solution is found through mutual understanding of and developing new perspective on the issue at hand, based on hearing and being clear. Avoid impersonal, disconnected negotiations and strategies at the bargaining table.

-  Nicole Sidebottom